Writing Process: Phyllis Campbell – author of Out of the Night, a Supernatural Mystery

Many thanks to Donna W. Hill for inviting me to take part in the Writing Process BLOG tour. Donna is a singer-songwriter turned novelist and an advocate for equality for people with visual impairments. Her debut novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print or Kindle at: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1483948226

Visit Donna’s website & sign up to follow her blog at: http://DonnaWHill.com

Follow her on Twitter: @dewhill

These are my answers to the four standard Writing Process Blog Tour questions.

What are you working on now?

I have just completed, and published, Out Of The Night, a supernatural mystery. It is the story of two women, two centuries, and one man who is determined to destroy them, even from the grave.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Much has been written about the lot of women in the 1800s, but little, if anything, has been written about the lot of blind women during that period. If the lot of most women, even those married to wealthy men was bad, according to our standards, women without sight were often treated as things, less than human.

I have kept the tone light, however, because I want to hold the reader’s attention while telling a good story, as well as making what might be called a social statement.

Most plots in popular fiction bear many of the same elements, and Out Of The Night is no exception. It is made up of mystery, fear, pathos, and a touch of drama and romance, served up with a different twist.

The spirits must be heard, not seen, and sensed. Descriptions of common things such as the size of a room are different, consisting of echo or the feeling of space.

Why do you write what you do?

We are told, “Write what you know,” and while I do sometimes write through the eyes of someone who can see, my writing is usually made up of the things in my world, the world of a woman who is blind.

I want others to know that world, and in my writing experience of over fifty years, I have learned that a point of view can be made more through fiction. Many people wouldn’t be caught dead reading nonfiction, but give them a character they can identify with, and they start to think.

Easy? Decidedly not, but a rewarding challenge. I must take the reader into a new dimension where he/she has never been before, a world made up of touch, hearing, smell, and that mysterious thing called the sixth sense. I must make them feel the joy of the sun on their faces, the sense of uneasiness just before a storm, the quickened heartbeat at a sound in the night. The reader must be made to hear the drip of water in the underground room, smell the damp stale air, shut in for years. I must do this in such a way that he can go on to imagine the cobwebs festooning the ceiling, and the scattering of the bones of a long dead small animal. Yes, I can have the protagonist and the reader step on those bones with a brittle crunch. Rather than seeing eyes staring out of the darkness, the sound of a rat gnawing off to the side is more effective.

How does your writing process work?

Small things often spark my “what if.” Sometimes I may play around with an idea for months, even years, before it becomes a plot. Often the idea may be as simple as a grand piano in a used furniture store, or the voice of a child at a funeral. They may be something sad or disturbing such as a child lost for years, or a child’s death due to carelessness at a facility for disabled children.

I’m wary of “Here’s a great idea for you!” although my first book idea was conceived by an editor. Would I have written the book just to please her? Probably not, unless it grabbed my imagination, simply because I couldn’t have made it work. If, however, she had given me an outline, I would have followed it, but never been satisfied with the work.

Nonfiction is a different thing. If I’m assigned a nonfiction piece I don’t need to feel that sense of kinship with the work.

I usually plot fiction with a beginning, what’s happening; an end, where is it going; and the middle, how is it going to get there. Do I usually stick to this rough outline? Absolutely not! This would take the creativity out of the project, and I’d be left with a shell of a story.

The hardest part of the writing process is the rewriting, but make no mistake, it is essential. An editor told me that although several people may go over a manuscript, they sometimes miss mistakes. Some of my best writing has been done during a rewrite.

In closing all writers need to find their own writing identity, and go for it.

Out of the Night by Phyllis Campbell is available in multiple Ebook formats fromSmashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/405450

It’s also available from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/B00IA04IXW

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About Donna W. Hill

Donna W. Hill is a writer, speaker, animal lover and avid knitter from Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains. Her first novel, The Heart of Applebutter Hill, is an adventure-mystery with excursions into fantasy for general audiences. Professionals in the fields of education and the arts have endorsed it as a diversity, inclusion and anti-bullying resource for junior high through college. A songwriter with three albums, Hill provided educational and motivational programs in the Greater Philadelphia area for fifteen years before moving to the mountains. Her essay, "Satori Green" appears in Richard Singer's Now, Embracing the Present Moment (2010, O-Books), and her cancer-survivor story is in Dawn Colclasure’s On the Wings of Pink Angels (2012). From 2009 through 2013, Hill was an online journalist for numerous publications, covering topics ranging from nature, health care and accessibility to music, knitting and chocolate. She is an experienced talk show guest and guest blogger and presents workshops about writing and her novel for school, university, community and business groups. The Heart of Applebutter Hill is available in print and e-versions at Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Smashwords, Create Space and other outlets. It is also available through Bookshare for readers with print disabilities.
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